After another E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce in October and November, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning the U.S. population to check labels before purchasing lettuce moving forward. It was found that lettuce coming from California's Central Coast Region, in the central and northern parts of the state, was the culprit, and label makers must now indicate specific harvest dates and regions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says: "If you do not know where the romaine is from, do not eat it."
More About the New Labels
The FDA advises the public not to buy or eat lettuce that doesn't have this required harvest date and region information included, according to The Eagle-Tribune. Restaurants should not serve it unless this information is provided. If the lettuce was harvested outside of this specific area of California, it's not included in the outbreak and should be safe to eat.
These updated packages are set to be in stores as November is ending, and those involved in the market are hoping for a quick turnaround so that sales don't slow for long and safe romaine isn't wasted.
If the romaine doesn't come in packaging on shelves, grocery stores should post this new information by the check-outs. If restaurants don't know where the lettuce came from and can't view the label information, even if it's part of Caesar salad packages or something similar, they should check with their suppliers about the source of the lettuce, the CDC says.
What Are Safe Regions and Harvest Dates?
Typical winter growing areas for romaine lettuce are Arizona, Florida, Mexico and regions of California, such as the Imperial Valley. The Central Coast Region of California, where the infected harvests came from, is a more popular growing area for warmer periods of the year.
These winter-growing regions are safe because they weren't yet shipping the product when the outbreak started, U.S. officials say, according to Oklahoma's News on 6.
The CDC website also indicates that romaine lettuce that was grown hydroponically or in a greenhouse has not been linked to the outbreak.
Consumers must make sure they're checking the label if they do decide to buy romaine lettuce again after the recent outbreak, which infected close to 50 people from 12 states, Washington's Q13 Fox reported. Over 20 Canadians were also said to have been affected by the outbreak.